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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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China and the Soviet Union in Xinjiang, 1934-1949

This collection of Soviet records concerns the political and military turmoil in Xinjiang in the 1930s and 1940s. The records provide considerable details on the insurrection led by Ma Zhongying, Governor Sheng Shicai's relationship with Stalin, the establishment of the East Turkestan Republic (1944-1949) in northern Xinjiang, and Sino-Soviet relations, among other topics. The majority of the records in the collection were obtained by Jamil Hasanli for his 2015 book Sin'tszyan v orbite sovetskoy politiki: Stalin i musul'manskoye dvizheniye v Vostochnom Turkestane: 1931-1949: monografiya (Xinjiang in the Orbit of Soviet Politics: Stalin and the Muslim Movement in Eastern Turkestan, 1931-1949). See also the Digital Archive collection on "The Yi-Ta Incident, 1962." (Photo: Governor of Xinjiang Sheng Shicai, date unknown.)

  • July 16, 1936

    On Soviet Trade Officials in Xinjiang

    The CPSU Politburo increases the number of Soviet trade officials in Xinjiang.

  • October 04, 1936

    Letter from Sheng Shicai to Cde. V. M. Molotov

    Governor Shicai Sheng of Xinjiang praises the Soviet Union and expresses gratitude to Cde. V. M. Molotov for the "moral and material friendly aid" Xinjiang has received from the Soviet Union while expressing regret that he will be unable to accompany Apresov, the Consul General in Urumqi, on his visit to the Soviet Union.

  • February 16, 1937

    Concerning Soviet Geological Exploration Work in Xinjiang

    The Politburo orders that the Special Expedition of the NKTP continue its work in the territory of Xinjiang, namely exploring and mining in the Surtassky deposit and the Ili [Yili] District, through 1937.

  • April 04, 1937

    Concerning a Peace Settlement in Kashgar

    The Politburo orders both the governor of Kashgar and Cde. Smirnov to appeal to Mamut to resolve his disputes with the Urumqi government peacefully. In the event that Mamut begins conducting military opeartions against the Urumqi government, the Politburo orders Cdes. Frinovsky and Uritsky to prepare a plan of military measures against the Uighur division.

  • April 08, 1937

    Concerning Military Operations in Xinjiang

    The Soviet Politburo directs Cde. Frinovsky to suggest that division commander Ma Hushan of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army intercept Mamut and disarm him.

  • April 19, 1937

    Concerning Actions to be Taken Against the Command of the 6th Division of the NRA

    Noting that the command staff of the 6th Division of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army is hostile to the Urumqi government, the Politburo orders that the units be disarmed and the command staff arrested. The Politburo also orders that a group of energetic Chinese and Uighurs from Kashgar be sent to organize a government in Yarkant.

  • May 17, 1937

    Concerning Support for Chinese Troops in Kashgaria

    The Politburo orders Soviet aircraft, armored cars, and pilots be sent to assist the Chinese command in suppressing the rebels in Kashgaria.

  • May 28, 1937

    Concerning Song Ziwen's Travel

    The Politburo recommends that the governor of Xinjiang permit Song Ziwen to travel to Urumqi.

  • June 14, 1937

    Concerning the 36th Division of the NRA's Appeals to the Soviet Government

    In response to Ma Hushan's (commander of the 36th Division of the NRA) request for Soviet assistance in Xinjiang and the release of Ma Zhongying from the Soviet Union, the Politburo resolves that it will provide assistance only after the leadership of the 36th Division concludes an agreement with the Xinjiang government and establishes peace in the south of Xinjiang.

  • July 29, 1937

    Concerning Soviet Military Operations in Xinjiang

    The Politburo orders two regiments be sent into Xinjiang to prevent the advance of the 36th Division. It also orders that Ma Zhongying continue to be detained and recommends that the governor of Xinjiang avoid an agreement with Ma Hushan.

  • September 22, 1937

    Concerning Travel of the Civil Air Fleet to Xinjiang

    The Politburo orders the Civil Air Fleet to send a transport aircraft to make several trips between Urumqi and Kashgar in coordination with the NKID and NKVD.

  • September 24, 1937

    Concerning Alleged Plots Against Governor Sheng Shicai

    The Politburo decides to send an experienced investigator to investigate an alleged plot against Sheng Shicai, the governor of Xinjiang.

  • November 10, 1937

    Letter from Governor Sheng Shicai to Cde. V. M. Molotov

    Sheng Shicai expresses gratitude to Cde. V. M. Molotov for Soviet assistance with eliminating the 36th Division of the NRA from the South of Xinjiang and combating a Trotskyist plot in Xinjiang. He requests Molotov's assistance with "implementing the policy of the six principles" in Xinjiang and turning it into a model province.

  • January 09, 1938

    Concerning Troop Movements through Xinjiang

    The Politburo recommends that Sheng Shicai advise Jiang Jieshi to permit the regiment currently stationed in Erlizihe to proceed to its designated location.

  • January 10, 1938

    Concerning NKVD Operations in Xinjiang

    The Politburo orders the NKVD to deploy a reinforced cavalry regiment and an attached RKKA fighter squadron to the area of Hami, allocating additional tanks, automobiles, and gasoline trucks to support their operations. It also provides recommended changes to Shicai Sheng's military policy in Xinjiang.

  • September 02, 1938

    A Conversation Between Cdes. Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov and the Governor Shicai Sheng which Occurred in the Kremlin on 2 September 1938

    Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, and Governor Sheng discuss Xinjiang's military, level of industrialization, and natural resources, as well as Governor Sheng's strong desire to join the Communist Party.

  • January 04, 1939

    Translation of a Letter from Governor Shicai Sheng to Cdes. Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov

    Governor Sheng Shicai expresses gratitude to Cdes. Stalin, Molotov, and Voroshilov for the opportunity to visit Moscow. After reporting critical remarks made by Fang Lin against the Soviet Union and the Communist Party, Sheng Shicai requests that the All-Union Communist Party dispatch a politically experienced person to Urumqi to discuss Party training and asks that the Comintern order the Chinese Communist Party in Xinjiang to liquidate the Party organization.

  • January 10, 1939

    Concerning Soviet Troops in Xinjiang

    The Politburo transfers Soviet military units deployed in Xinjiang and supervision of the Xinjiang army to the control of the People's Commissariat of Defense.

  • March 14, 1940

    Concerning the Secret Cipher Unit of the USSR Consulate in Urumqi

    The Politburo directs the NKVD to permit the division of the combined secret cipher unit of the USSR Consulate General and Trade Mission in Urumqi into independent secret cipher units.

  • October 26, 1940

    Excerpt on Xinjiang from Minutes No. 21 of the VKP(b) CC Politburo Meetings

    The Soviet Politburo charges Narkomtsvetmet with concluding a 50 year concession agreement for the right to explore and exploit mineral deposits in Xinjiang and establishes a Directorate of Concessions for Exploration, Prospecting, and Exploitation of the Deposits of Tin in Xinjiang.